Kaieteur News – The PPP/C administration has appointed one of Guyana’s most senior career diplomats, Mr. George Talbot, as Ambassador to CARICOM. This decision portends the intention of the PPP/C to covet, for its comrades and cronies, the major diplomatic appointments, including the posting to Brasilia where Talbot was formerly stationed.
Guyana does not need an Ambassador to CARICOM. The Secretariat of the Caribbean Community is located in Guyana. So tell me why does Guyana need an Ambassador to the Caribbean when the headquarters of the regional integration movement is right within our borders?
What Guyana needs, is its best diplomats in the key and strategic countries – Brazil, Suriname, Venezuela, USA, UK, Canada, India, China, Cuba and Switzerland. Guyana also needs its best diplomats to represent it at the United Nations and at the Organisation of American States, the latter of which is usually manned from Guyana’s Embassy in Washington.
The pursuit on an inspired foreign policy has always been alien to the PPP/C. It has never developed an appreciation of the importance such a policy plays in achieving a country’s national objectives and as such, the PPP/C has used ambassadorial appointments to reward its comrades and cronies.
This approach has led to a de-emphasis on utilising career public servants. A few months ago, a photograph published in the media showed a number of PPP/C Ministers huddled at a desk participating in a virtual meeting of the Caribbean Community. And not one technical staff from the Foreign Ministry was in attendance to render advice or clarifications. Perhaps, they were logged in from Takuba Lodge but no President, especially a new one, should venture into such an important meeting without the support staff from the Foreign Ministry being at his ear reach.
When it comes to political appointees in the Foreign Service, the PPP/C is no different from the Coalition, which it succeeded. The APNU+AFC had also installed a number of political appointees, but at least many of these were extremely competent and experienced in diplomacy, including Dr. Deep Forde, Guyana’s representative in Geneva; David Hales, Guyana’s Ambassador to Belgium; Bayney Karran, Guyana’s Ambassador to China; and Dr. Riyaad Insanally, the point-person in Washington. These were all top-notch diplomats who can easily command top appointments in most international organisations.
It is a convention that when there is a change in government for the politically appointed diplomats to submit their resignations. But this rule was not always fully complied with as is one case so well illustrates when the PPP/C lost office in 2015.
The PPP/C is now likely to fill the top posts in Brasilia, Paramaribo, Washington, London, Brussels and Geneva with political appointees. Former Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, is believed to be awaiting confirmation to take up the prestigious post of Guyana’s Ambassador to the USA. A former Foreign Minister is highly touted to assume duties in London. The post in Ottawa has been filled, commendably, by a career diplomat and the position in Delhi was controversially handed to the man whose vote allowed for the passage of the no-confidence vote in December 2018.
A former Foreign Minister who was working with the Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome has been appointed to the position of Permanent Representative to the United Nations. The changes over the years in this posting – from Talbot to Ten-Pow and now Rodrigues-Birkett – have made the Representative far from being viewed as permanent.
The process of appointing new ambassadors is a protracted exercise mainly on account of the lengthy period which it often takes to have these appointments ratified by the receiving country. The most likely reason why the PPP/C has not yet announced any additional appointments is because it is awaiting word from the foreign governments to which these soon-to-be appointed diplomats are to be appointed.
It is critical that the key diplomatic appointments be made soon. Brazil is likely to have a change in government next year when Presidential elections are held. Guyana needs an experienced, skilled diplomat to protect its strategic interests in Brasilia.
Venezuela is another flashpoint. A belligerent attitude was adopted by the APNU+AFC to Venezuela and if the PPP/C knows better, it would need to mend these relations because it does not appear as if US imperialism will be able to topple Maduro.
It is important therefore, that Guyana gets its representative in Caracas as soon as possible. Who will it be? Did somebody say Khellewan Lall?
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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